|August, 2015 (13)
|July, 2015 (15)
|June, 2015 (14)
|May, 2015 (13)
|April, 2015 (18)
|March, 2015 (17)
|February, 2015 (15)
|January, 2015 (12)
|December, 2014 (12)
|November, 2014 (16)
|October, 2014 (20)
|September, 2014 (17)
|August, 2014 (18)
|July, 2014 (16)
|June, 2014 (18)
|May, 2014 (17)
|April, 2014 (17)
|March, 2014 (17)
|February, 2014 (16)
|January, 2014 (16)
|December, 2013 (11)
|November, 2013 (15)
|October, 2013 (19)
|September, 2013 (20)
|August, 2013 (23)
|July, 2013 (24)
|June, 2013 (14)
|May, 2013 (25)
|April, 2013 (20)
|March, 2013 (24)
|February, 2013 (25)
|January, 2013 (20)
|December, 2012 (19)
|November, 2012 (25)
|October, 2012 (22)
|September, 2012 (24)
|August, 2012 (24)
|July, 2012 (21)
|June, 2012 (22)
|May, 2012 (28)
|April, 2012 (44)
|March, 2012 (36)
|February, 2012 (36)
|January, 2012 (27)
|December, 2011 (22)
|November, 2011 (29)
|October, 2011 (52)
|September, 2011 (26)
|August, 2011 (26)
|July, 2011 (17)
|June, 2011 (31)
|May, 2011 (32)
|April, 2011 (31)
|March, 2011 (31)
|February, 2011 (28)
|January, 2011 (27)
|December, 2010 (34)
|November, 2010 (26)
|October, 2010 (27)
|September, 2010 (27)
|August, 2010 (31)
|July, 2010 (23)
|June, 2010 (30)
|May, 2010 (23)
|April, 2010 (30)
|March, 2010 (30)
|February, 2010 (30)
|January, 2010 (23)
|December, 2009 (19)
|November, 2009 (27)
|October, 2009 (30)
|September, 2009 (25)
|August, 2009 (26)
|July, 2009 (33)
|June, 2009 (32)
|May, 2009 (30)
|April, 2009 (39)
|March, 2009 (35)
|February, 2009 (21)
|January, 2009 (29)
|December, 2008 (15)
|November, 2008 (15)
|October, 2008 (25)
|September, 2008 (30)
|August, 2008 (26)
|July, 2008 (26)
|June, 2008 (22)
|May, 2008 (27)
|April, 2008 (20)
|March, 2008 (20)
|February, 2008 (19)
|January, 2008 (22)
|December, 2007 (21)
|November, 2007 (26)
|October, 2007 (20)
|September, 2007 (17)
|August, 2007 (23)
|July, 2007 (17)
|June, 2007 (13)
|May, 2007 (7)
Thursday, May 28, 2015
Finding My Ancestor's Old Property Deed: Tips You Can Use
Posted by Diane
last I blogged about my Seeger family, I had uncovered
their previously unknown migration (a short one, just a few doors
down the street) and added finding the associated deed
record to my genealogy to-do list.
Deeds are both rewarding and difficult to find. They're rarely
online. Counties keep them in various states of organization, and
they're usually unindexed or only partially indexed. A
resource like Family
Tree University's Land Records 101 online course (the next
session starts June 8) can arm you with knowledge and
confidence to start your deed search.
I'm lucky that Hamilton
County, Ohio, records are on the free FamilySearch.org.
They're not yet in the site's record search, so they must be
browsed. The collection includes deed index books, which give
the volume and page number with the recorded deed.
But most of the index books aren't organized by name. Instead,
each series of index books covers a year range. Sections of the
books are devoted to subdivisions (with multiple books including
each subdivision), but you don't know what subdivisions are in a book
without paging through. Pages for a subdivision list
property transactions with the grantor (seller), grantee (buyer),
lot number and a short description with street names. (More on Hamilton
County, Ohio, deeds here.)
I knew my ancestors' subdivision (Ferneding's), lot number (23), and
about when they moved (1883). So over two or three episodes of
"Castle," I browsed through the series of index books covering
this year. It helped to be familiar with the area: Subdivisions located near each other seemed to appear together in the
indexes, so I skipped a bunch of pages when I could tell from street
names that I was in the wrong part of town.
The series had 36 books in all, and I found what I
needed in book 27, page 110 (this is the top of the page and my ancestor's entry near the bottom):
After that it was much easier—I found the deed in vol. 560, page
508, right where the index said it should be. Here's how the record,
dated Oct. 13, 1883, starts:
Apparently there was a legal dispute over dividing the lot, and my
great-great-grandfather H.A. Seeger purchased the southern half once it was settled. This is consistent with my mom's memory of another
building behind our
family's, with a courtyard in the middle. (The two buildings have
since been combined and the front door relocated around the corner, which changed the address.)
You might not have such a lengthy deed search if a local genealogical
society or repository has published a name index to deeds in your
ancestor's area, or even made records searchable online. Try an
online search for the county name plus deeds genealogy.
you can use the index information to find the deed on microfilm
through FamilySearch or a local archive, on a visit to the courthouse,
or via a written request for photocopies.
The Land Records 101 online course helps you find and understand deed records as
well as land patents and land entry case files. Learn
more about the course and sign yourself up at
Family Tree University | Land records | Research Tips
Thursday, May 28, 2015 9:45:45 AM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)
Friday, June 13, 2014
Genealogy News Corral: June 9-13
Posted by Diane
Are you planning on attending the joint RootsTech/Federation of
Genealogical Societies conference, February 11-14, 2015, in
Salt Lake City? Four Salt Lake City hotels are now taking
reservations with reduced rates to conference attendees. I have a
feeling hotels will be sold out, so book early. FamilySearch's
announcement about conference hotels is here.
- The Council for the Advancement of Forensic Genealogy (CAFG) will
hold its fourth annual Forensic Genealogy Institute (FGI) March
26-28, 2015, in Dallas. Intensive courses are designed for those
interested in researching genealogical cases with legal implications
(for example, to establish inheritance in court). You'll find details
about the courses on the CAFG blog, and you can learn
more about FGI here. Registration will open this summer.
FamilySearch | Genealogy Events | Land records
Friday, June 13, 2014 12:48:15 PM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)
Tuesday, November 19, 2013
Four Free Websites to Find Old Maps
Posted by Diane
Plan of Cincinnati and Vicinity, S.A. Mitchell, Jr., 1860, David Rumsey Map Collection
In genealogy research, old maps can help you
In our 5
Ways to Enhance Your Genealogy With Old Maps live webinar,
happening Thursday, Dec. 12, Lisa Louise Cooke will show
you the five kinds of maps you should look for and the best ways to
use them to solve genealogy research problems.
- Pinpoint the location of your ancestor's property.
- Follow migrating ancestors across the ocean, around the
country or through the city.
- Answer questions such as where two branches crossed to produce
the next generation.
- Figure out where a family went to school, church and the
- Identify potential cluster research subjects (i.e., the
- Understand your ancestors' neighborhoods.
In the mean time, try these four websites to find free maps of the
places your ancestors lived.
- David Rumsey Historical
Map Collection: The maps and other
cartographic images here focus on rare 18th- and 19th-century
North American and South American materials. You can view
maps, compare them side-by-side and download hi-resolution
Library Rare Map Collection: This University of
Georgia site features maps depicting the New World, Colonial and
Revolutionary America, Revolutionary Georgia, Union &
Expansion, the American Civil War, Frontier to New South,
Savannah and the Coast and Transportation.
Free Databases | Land records | Research Tips | Webinars
Tuesday, November 19, 2013 12:11:14 PM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)
Tuesday, October 01, 2013
How the Government Shutdown Impacts Genealogists
Posted by Diane
The government shutdown means that some of you who had big genealogy
research or historical travel plans are up a creek:
US mail will still be delivered, so research requests sent to
non-federal repositories won't be affected.
For the sake of those
more profoundly affected and for genealogists' sake, let's hope this gets resolved soon.
Land records | Libraries and Archives | Museums | NARA
Tuesday, October 01, 2013 9:09:51 AM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)
Thursday, May 09, 2013
New Workshop Helps You Use Google Earth to Improve Your Genealogy Search
Posted by Diane
I don't need to write a lot about what you'll learn from our Map
Your Family History with Google Earth One-Week Workshop,
coming up May 17-24, thanks to this awesome video that Google Earth
expert Lisa Louise Cooke of
Genealogy Gems put together:
The workshop offers
video sessions and step-by-step written lessons from Lisa and other
Family Tree University experts on locating ancestral towns, using
maps in your research, and using the tools of Google Earth to
explore and display your ancestors' places in a fascinating way.
And Lisa will be be on hand to answer participants' Google Earth
questions in our exclusive workshop message board.
out more about the Map Your Family History With Google Earth
One-Week Workshop on FamilyTreeUniversity.com.
Editor's Pick | Family Tree University | Land records | Research Tips
Thursday, May 09, 2013 9:29:12 AM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)
Wednesday, May 08, 2013
Free, Online Northern Ireland Valuation Revision Books (1864-1933)
Posted by Diane
The Public Record Office of Northern Ireland (PRONI) has released a
new genealogy resource for Northern Ireland.
PRONI, along with FamilySearch, has digitized
the Valuation Revision Books, 1864-1933. These books contain a
list of landholders and their property valuations in counties
Antrim, Armagh, Down, Fermanagh, Londonderry and Tyrone.
are handy for filling in gaps between Griffiths Valuation (which
ends in 1864) and the 1901 census (the earliest surviving Irish
Here's what the Valuation Revision Book pages look like:
You'll need to know where your ancestor lived in Northern Ireland to best use the
the Valuation Revision Books on PRONI's website (click the
Search Valuation revision Books button on the right). There, you can
enter a placename
(city, county, parish, or townland; or a street or ward name in
Belfast and Londonderry) and digitally "flip" through books
pertaining to that place. You also can browse by county and parish.
Note that 44 of the roughly 3,900 books are still be digitized.
Searching for Irish roots? Get in-depth guidance in Family Tree
Irish Genealogy Collection, available only in May.
Free Databases | Land records | UK and Irish roots
Wednesday, May 08, 2013 2:01:58 PM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)
Thursday, April 18, 2013
Two Genealogy Databases to Search While They're Free
Posted by Diane
You have a couple of days left to take advantage of these free
database offers from sites where you'd normally need to subscribe or hope your library subscribes:
- Ancestry.com has made its marriage
records collection free to search through April 21 at
midnight ET. These records are great sources for female
ancestors' maiden names and sometimes the couples' parents'
names, in addition to the marriage date and place. You'll need
to register for a free account, if you don't already have one,
to view records.
- ProQuest's Historic MapWorks Library Edition (link to it from this page) is free to at-home users through
April 20 in honor of National Library Week. Here, you can browse
by place or search for an address, keyword or GPS coordinates to
find old landowner and other maps. (The landowner maps aren't
indexed by name here, so you need to search for the place and
then find the person's name on a map.) You can download maps and
overlay the maps with Google maps to pinpoint the modern
I searched for Colerain township in Ohio, in hopes
of finding the location of my Depenbrock relatives' farm—and I
found it. This is part of an 1884 township map; I've highlighted
The Depenbrock property borders on the land of my great-great-grandmother's brother's wife's family.
Ancestry.com | Free Databases | Land records | Research Tips
Thursday, April 18, 2013 11:33:53 AM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)
Friday, April 12, 2013
Genealogy News Corral, April 8-12
Posted by Diane
- Subscription genealogy website Ancestry.com announced on Facebook that
its collection of marriage records will be free April 17-21 (so you
have a few days to plan your research). You'll need to register for
a free account to view the records.
ProQuest offers databases you can usually use only in libraries that
subscribe to the services, but during National Library Week this
week, you can try
out several of the databases at home for free. The one I see
that most genealogists will be into is Historic MapWorks Library
Edition, which contains maps dating back to the 1700s. I found my
Depenbrock family's farm in Colerain Township, Ohio, on an 1884 land owner map in less than 5 minutes!
here to link to this and the other free databases.
Ancestry.com | Free Databases | Land records
Friday, April 12, 2013 2:54:33 PM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)
Tuesday, April 09, 2013
Genealogy Video Tip: Finding Old Land Records in Illinois
Posted by Diane
to Beat Your Illinois Brick Walls webinar Thursday evening,
April 11, picks up where our Illinois
Genealogy Crash Course left off, introducing you to
more-advanced, lesser-known genealogy resources ito trace ancestors
In this video tip from the Secrets to Beat Your Illinois Brick Walls
webinar, presenter David A. Fryxell gives you resources for finding
land records in Illinois, from the days of French, then British,
then Virginia jurisdiction, through the public domain lands era, to
more-recent deed records.
You've still got a couple more days to register for the Secrets to
Beat Your Illinois Brick Walls webinar! Learn
more about the webinar and sign up at ShopFamilyTree.com.
Land records | Research Tips | Videos | Webinars
Tuesday, April 09, 2013 2:55:20 PM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)
Friday, September 07, 2012
Of Census Searches and Landlubbers
Posted by Tyler
Diana Crisman Smith has been researching genealogy since childhood and has served as a lay librarian at the local Family History Center for more than 20 years. She has written for numerous genealogical publications, including current regular columns in the National Genealogical Society’s NewsMagazine and the Association of Professional Genealogists’ APG Quarterly. In this guest post, she talks about the two sessions she is presenting at Family Tree University’s Fall Virtual Conference: “Smarter Online Census Searching” and “Finding Land Records Online”.
I’m Diana Crisman Smith, and I’ve been researching my family since I was eleven years old. I have been helping others with their research for more than twenty years through writing, speaking, teaching and volunteering at the Family History Center. I have roots throughout the US and Europe, but US research is the starting place for all my family branches. Two of the most useful tools I use in US genealogical research are land records and census records.
Now that so many of the US censuses are available in online images or indexed online, researchers have a wonderful opportunity to use these important records. We all know that they are not perfect, since we can’t always find what we want easily. Join me to learn some tips to make the best use of these records by searching smarter.
I also love “playing in the dirt” with land records. If your ancestors were farmers, they are critical for you; if they were city folk, they still may have land purchases (they bought houses just like we do, which means land records). For those who were in the “Western states” (essentially west of the original colonies, plus a few special states), the Bureau of Land Management website is one of the most useful, but little-known, resources of the Federal Government. Come learn to use some of the great information available through this source.
Act quickly—the conference starts next Friday, Sept. 14! Register now for the Fall Virtual Conference and save $20 with coupon code FRIENDSOFDIANA.
census records | Family Tree University | Genealogy Events | Land records
Friday, September 07, 2012 10:20:37 AM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)
Wednesday, May 16, 2012
150th Anniversary of the Homestead Act: Genealogy Resources for Land Records
Posted by Diane
homestead act post
Were your ancestors among the millions who claimed federal lands
under the Homestead Act of 1862?
We're coming up on the 150th
anniversary of this groundbreaking (pun intended) legislation that
accelerated the country's westward expansion. Look for opportunities
to learn more about your homesteading ancestors.
President Lincoln signed the Homestead Act into law on May 20, 1862. Beginning Jan. 1, 1863, a homesteader could receive up to
160 acres of public domain land by applying for a claim (which
required a filing fee), improving the land, living on it for five
years, and then filing for a patent.
Anyone who was 21 or older or the head of a family—women, immigrants and freed slaves
included—who'd never taken up arms against the US government could
file an application to claim land.
The first person to claim land under the act was Union Army scout
Daniel Freeman on Jan. 1, 1863. The story is he'd met some officials of the local
land office at a New Year's Eve party and convinced them to open the
office shortly after midnight so he could file his claim before
reporting for duty.
Homesteading ended in 1976 in most of the United States and 1986 in
Alaska. The last claimant under the act applied for
80 acres on Alaska's Stony River and received his deed until 1988.
Only about 40 percent of those who ever filed completed the
application process and received land titles. More than 2
million homesteads were granted, according
to the Bureau of Land Management (BLM). Between 1862 and 1934, 10 percent of land in the
United States was privatized under the act.
Use these links to research your ancestor's
Land Office Records Online
The BLM's General Land Office (GLO) was charged with overseeing the
homestead application process. It's free to search for and view more
than 5 million federal land patents issued since 1820. (If your
ancestor applied for a homestead but never received title to his or
her land, there won't be a record here.) You'll also find a
reference center with a land records glossary, FAQ and more.
This free FamilyTreeMagazine.com article has tips for using the GLO
online records website.
Fold3 is digitizing the National Archives' homestead records for
Nebraska. You can search the collection, which is 39 percent
complete, for free. The files, from the Records of the Bureau of
Land Management, consist of final certificates, applications with
land descriptions, affidavits showing proof of citizenship and more.
And here's a video about the homestead records digitization project.
National Monument of America
This national monument near Beatrice, Neb., explains the
Homestead Act and its impact on the United States. Click the
History and Culture link to learn more about the act, see its text,
view maps, "meet" well-known homesteaders and more.
Commemorating 150 Years of The Homestead Act
This BLM site has a Homestead Act timeline; videos about historic
homesteads, building a frontier home and more; and a Q&A.
Archives: Ingalls Homestead Records
This article from the National Archives' Prologue magazine (Winter 2003 issue) discusses my
favorite homesteaders—the Ingallses and Wilders of Little
House on the Prairie fame—and shows portions of the families'
Family Tree Magazine
resources to help you research your ancestors' land records (whether
federal records such as land entry case files or local records
such as deeds) include:
Fold3 | Genealogy Web Sites | Land records | NARA | Research Tips
Wednesday, May 16, 2012 10:36:46 AM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)
Wednesday, April 18, 2012
Researching Genealogy in Land Records
Posted by Diane
Researching your genealogy using land records—deeds, patents, plats, etc.—is often considered advanced. But a genealogist of any level can find an ancestor's land records using the help in our Family Tree Land Records Research Value Pack.
The tools in this collection include:
The Family Tree Land Records Research Value Pack is deeply discounted this month only: just $49.99! (You'd pay $163.97 to buy each tool individually.)
Click here to get this deal.
- Land Records 101 Family Tree University Independent Study Course download: Master the basics of US land records research, including what documents to look for and where to find them, online and offline
- Platting Metes and Bounds Properties on-demand video class: If your ancestor's property was surveyed under the metes and bounds system, land records describe it in terms of trees, rocks, fenceposts, streams and roads along the boundaries. This lesson will help you make sense of those descriptions and map out what the property looked like.
- Platting Rectangular Survey System Properties on-demand video class: Learn how to plat ancestral properties surveyed using the rectangular survey system, also known as the public land survey system.
- Using Land Records article download: Our guide to land records explains land records from early headrights to claims under the Homestead Act. You'll also learn about property deeds and "dower rights," which can be informative about female ancestors.
Land records | ShopFamilyTree.com Sales
Wednesday, April 18, 2012 11:02:51 AM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)
Tuesday, October 25, 2011
DNA, Land Records & More in Our Free October Podcast
Posted by Diane
The free October Family Tree Magazine Podcast is now available for your genealogy edification in iTunes and on FamilyTreeMagazine.com.
In this episode, you’ll hear
... and more genealogy news and tips.
↑ Grab this Headline Animator
Genetic Genealogy | Land records | Podcasts | Research Tips
Tuesday, October 25, 2011 11:52:00 AM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)
Tuesday, September 13, 2011
One to Watch: HistoryGeo.com
Posted by Diane
One exhibit generating buzz at the FGS conference last week was HistoryGeo.com, a web-based service from Arphax Publishing Co.
Arphax publishes books of land-ownership maps for US counties—500 to date. Now the company is building an online service that will let you search and view maps; create a map collection; create animated, personalized maps; and network with other members.
Subscribers will get access to 2,000 “big-picture” maps (state- or county-wide), then can search the library of about 40,000 “premium” maps (a number that will grow) by surname or place to add to their own map collection.
You’ll be able to create animations of family migrations and other geographic events; attach custom map markers, your own images and links to other web pages; and collaborate with other researchers.
This is what the map viewer looks like:
It lets you zoom in and out, navigate to your ancestors' county, add markers, take snapshots of a place, search for maps related to places your ancestors moved, and view migrations. You can make your map markers private, public, or viewable by select others.
The HistoryGeo.com site suggests this application for the custom animated maps: “Watch an animation of both your mother's and father's families as they cross our country, with paths intersecting where you were born.” You could take this further back in time to “watch” when your great-grandparents’ lives intersected, getting research clues such as where to look for marriage or land records
The service is still being set up, so a limited number of charter membership subscriptions are available ($42 for six months and 500 premium maps for your personal collection; $54 for six months and 1,000 premium maps). You also can register as a basic user to get a feel for the site. Once you register, click Launch Map Viewer to get started.
Genealogy Web Sites | Land records
Tuesday, September 13, 2011 11:53:10 AM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)
Thursday, July 28, 2011
This Land Is Your Land
Posted by Diane
Do you have an ancestor's deed or land patent? The strange-looking land description containing letters and fractions is called “aliquot parts.” If you can decode the description, you’ll be able to figure out exactly where your ancestor’s land was.
Aliquot parts is an important element in the public land survey system (PLSS), also called the rectangular survey system, which was used to survey and divvy up land starting shortly after the Revolutionary War.
States with land surveyed under the PLSS, called Public Land States, are Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Florida, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Louisiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Ohio, Oregon, South Dakota, Utah, Washington, Wisconsin and Wyoming.
That's everything except the original 13 states, Maine, Vermont, West Virginia, Kentucky, Tennessee, Texas and Hawaii. (Parts of Ohio were surveyed with the old metes-and-bounds system, too.)
The PLSS established principal meridians—imaginary north-south lines—to serve as the starting point for surveying each 24x24-mile tract. A tract is divided into 16 townships; townships (23,040 acres) contain 36 sections, each 1 square mile (640 acres), like this:
A section could be split into halves, quarters or other parts. A description of your ancestor’s subdivision on a land record might look like N½ SW¼, which you’d read as “the north half of the southwest quarter.”
Here’s an example of how land might be divided and described in aliquot parts:
This free FamilyTreeMagazine.com article has more information about the PLSS and the Bureau of Land Management’s free federal land patent site.
One of the video sessions in Family Tree University’s Summer 2011 Virtual Conference, Aug. 19-21, is Diana Crisman Smith’s demo on platting your ancestors’ properties using PLSS. Learn more about the conference and register here.
Family Tree University | Land records | Research Tips
Thursday, July 28, 2011 9:19:52 AM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)
Friday, June 03, 2011
Genealogy News Corral, May 30-June 3
Posted by Diane
- Family chart-printing service Generation Maps has changed its name to Family ChartMasters to better describe the company’s services. Visit the website at FamilyChartMasters.com.
- The AARP is holding a sweepstakes with genealogy prizes including a five-hour research consultation with professional genealogist Megan Smolenyak, signed copies of Smolenyak’s books, Family Tree DNA testing, an Ancestry.com
subscription and a $1,000 gift card. You don’t have to be an AARP member to enter, but you do need to be age 45 or older. Click here to enter.
- Genealogy wiki WikiTree has announced that Tami Osmer Glatz (who’s written articles for Family Tree Magazine including the January 2011 guide to FamilySearch Centers) is the site’s new Cousin Connector. Her role is to suggest merges between trees and improving the quality of merged ancestor profiles.
- Thousands of historical Massachusetts and New England maps from the Perkins Collection, the archive of a family-owned surveying business, is now part of Historic Map Works. Available as a home subscription and through many libraries, Historic Map Works links maps with geocode data so you can search them by modern address, keywords, town names, or year. You also can order prints from the site.
- A new photo gift site called Snapily lets you create photo greetings with 3D effects (you move the card and decorative illustrations look
3D) and flip-animation (you tilt the card back and forth,
and switch between two photos). Visit the website to see what each
effect looks like. Prices for photo cards start at $2.99.
Genealogy Web Sites | Land records | Photos
Friday, June 03, 2011 9:30:32 AM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)
Monday, February 14, 2011
"Who Do You Think You Are?" Episode 2 Recap
Posted by jamie
Spoiler Alert: If you don't already know what happened during Tim McGraw's episode of “Who Do You Think You Are?” you are about to find out.
Country singer Tim McGraw, after looking at his birth certificate as a teenager, discovered the man he thought was his father was not his biological father. His birth certificate named baseball star Tug McGraw as his father, who he then forged a relationship with as an adult. Tug passed on without revealing much about the McGraw family tree, so Tim explored the paternal line of his ancestry on "Who Do You Think You Are?"
After gathering a few clues from his uncle, McGraw travels to Kansas City, Mo., to find out more about his great-grandparents Andrew and Ellie Mae McGraw. He views Ellie's death certificate and discovered she was a member of the Chrisman family, who settled that area of Missouri.
This led him to Virginia, researching sixth-great-grandfather Isaac Chrisman. Using surveying records and historical maps, McGraw discovers Chrisman lived on the boarder of Indian territory in colonial Virginia. Through a report made by a militiaman, McGraw discovers Chrisman was attacked by Indians and died.
Issac Chrisman's grandfather is Jost Hite, a German immigrant. He traveled to the colonies as an indentured servant with the Pressler family — ancestors of Elvis Presley. Hite quickly worked his way out of servitude and was awarded a massive land grant in Virginia. McGraw views Hite's deeds, and heads to the beautiful Shenandoah Valley to see his land.
The Hite trail then leads McGraw to the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C. There an archivist shows him George Washington's teenage journal, which indicates Washington lodged at the Hite family home. McGraw also reads a letter written by Washington to his ne'er-do-well neighbor, in which he praises the Hites as a prime example of how one should live his life.
While McGraw had professional researchers to help him navigate land plats and Virginia records, our Family Tree University Land Records 101 course and our Virginia research guides to help you find your ancestors on your own.
"WDYTYA" airs Fridays at 8pm EST on NBC. Check the Genealogy Insider
blog for a brief recap of each episode, and post a comment to be entered
to win in our Discover Who You Are sweepstakes!
"Who Do You Think You Are?" | German roots | Land records
Monday, February 14, 2011 10:07:35 AM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)
Monday, June 21, 2010
A Look at the New Land Ownership Maps on Ancestry.com
Posted by Diane
Subscription genealogy site Ancestry.com recently added a collection of US land ownership maps—about 1,200 county land ownership atlases digitized from microfilmed at the Library of Congress. The atlases come from 20 states and date between 1860 and 1918.
Maps show land parcels labeled with owners’ names. They vary in appearance depending on when and where they were published. This one shows Van Buren Township, Ind., in 1914.
You can search the collection by state, county, year or owner’s name. When you click to view an image, it may take awhile to hunt for the name you need (use the magnifying glass in Ancestry.com's record viewer to enlarge the image).
Once you find a relative's parcel, look at the other names. You may see names of people who’ve appeared as witnesses on family documents, or families who’ve married into yours. If you can determine when your ancestor purchased the land, you can contact the county (usually, the county clerk or the recorder's office) to request a deed of sale.
It helps to have a good idea of where an ancestor lived and when he owned land before you search this database. The maps offer no identifying information about the landowners, so if you just search on an ancestor to see if he shows up, you may have a hard time deciding if a match is the right person.
The M. Reuter who owns land at the top of the above map may be a relative of mine (I’m guessing my great-grandfather’s brother).
I found the family in the 1920 census ...
but then I realized I have other work I need to get done today. I’ll let you know what I find out about this.
In the mean time, you can learn more about how to find your ancestors' land records in these resources from Family Tree Magazine:
Ancestry.com | Land records
Monday, June 21, 2010 1:38:46 PM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)
Wednesday, May 05, 2010
Get Better at Genealogy With Family Tree University Online Classes
Posted by Diane
You can improve your genealogy research skills and make progress in your family tree quest, even on your busy schedule.
Registration is now open for the first online course offerings from Family Tree Magazine’s newest educational endeavor, Family Tree University. Choose from these courses:
Courses start May 10 and last four weeks (after which we’ll begin offering courses on even more topics). Each self-paced course has four to six lessons that are “released” at regular intervals over the four weeks.
- Finding Ancestors in the US Census: Online and Offline Research Strategies, taught by Jana Sloan Broglin
- Land Records 101: Using Deeds, Plats, Patents and More, taught by Diana Smith
- Tracing Immigrants: How to Research Your Family’s American Arrivals, taught by Lisa A. Alzo
- US Vital Records: Researching Births, Marriages, Deaths and Divorces, taught by George G. Morgan
- Reverse Genealogy: Working Forward to Break Down Brick Walls, taught by Lisa Louise Cooke
- Digital Photography Essentials: Techniques to Capture and Preserve Your Family History, taught by Nancy Hendrickson
Once you’re registered, you’ll receive your student login and password via e-mail, with instructions on how to access Family Tree University’s virtual campus. Then, you just log on at your convenience to review each lesson (online or in a PDF you can print out) and complete an exercise or quiz to practice your skills.
The professional researcher who’s instructing your class will provide feedback on your assignments. (Meet the instructors here.)
In your “classroom,” you’ll also have access to the required readings for that lesson, a library of resources for further learning, a message board where you can talk with other students and your instructor, and a “journal” where you can communicate privately with your instructor.
You can save 15 percent off your first course by entering the discount code LAUNCH15 when you register. Tuition is regularly $99 per course.
To learn more and register for a course, go to FamilyTreeUniversity.com. We’ll see you in class!
census records | Family Tree University | immigration records | Land records | Photos | Research Tips | Vital Records
Wednesday, May 05, 2010 10:27:47 AM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)
Thursday, January 14, 2010
Records Coming Soon to a Large Genealogy Website Near You
Posted by Diane
Like last year, content growth is again a focus for Ancestry.com in 2010. During last week’s press junket, content manager Gary Gibbs talked about new records coming to the site in 2010:
- US vital records, digitized in partnership with state archives. They include vital records from Vermont (1908 to 2008) and Delaware (1800 to 1933); divorces from Connecticut; and the Hayes Library Ohio Death Index.
Gibbs said that respondents to a lengthy Ancestry.com customer survey chose birth, marriage and death records as the resource they’d most like to see, and 1861 to 1914 as the time period most important to their search.
- Seven state censuses were released last year; look for more this year.
- US county land ownership maps were originally slated for release in 2009, but Gibbs’ team decided to key the records in a more useful but time-intensive way, delaying the launch until 2010.
- A 1950 "census substitute" consisting of city directories—helpful to reverse genealogists seeking living relatives, and to beginning researchers.
- 1880 Defective, Dependent and Delinquent ("DDD") schedules. These supplemental census schedules provide details on individuals with disabilities or who were institutionalized. Surviving records are currently scattered among libraries and state archives. (Can't wait until they go online? Download our cheat sheet to DDD schedules and their locations.)
- Index improvements to the 1790-to-1840 head-of-household censuses will key the tickmarks indicating household members’ sex, age ranges and status as slave or free, so you’ll be able to search on these parameters.
I asked about the 1940 census—whether it’ll be indexed and online when the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) releases the census to the public April 2, 2012 (the official April 1 release date is a Sunday). Gibbs said NARA will digitize the 1940 census, but couldn’t say much else except that Ancestry.com is “intensely interested” in the project.
- The site will add 700 million more names from voter lists to the US Public Records Index database.
Look for tips on preparing for the release of the 1940 census (as in determining enumeration districts, not making sure your tailgating gear is in shape) in the May 2010 Family Tree Magazine.
Ancestry.com | census records | Land records | Vital Records
Thursday, January 14, 2010 9:32:38 AM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)
Wednesday, December 16, 2009
Ohio Town's House History and Genealogy Meet on Free Site
Posted by Diane
What started as a survey of house histories has turned into a website with genealogy information for an entire community.
In 1995, the women’s club in Terrace Park, Ohio—a village of 2,267 residents and 1.25 square miles—asked every resident to fill out a survey about the history of local buildings.
Leland Cole designed an online home for the data: the Terrace Park, Ohio, Building Survey website. Now Cole and his wife, Carol, add to the site with help from the women’s club.
In all, the free site describes about 925 buildings. You can find all kinds information, including when a house or other structure was built, what it’s made of, its uses, changes made, owners’ names and ownership dates, notes about resident families from maps and phone and city directories, and more.
Most listings have links to photos of the property, a deed index and owners’ census transcriptions from 1810 to 1930.
The page for 203 Marietta St., for example, tells you the original owners, the West family, occupied the house from 1890 to 1951. Samuel Adams West was an attorney; his family was related to Oliver Robertson of 602 Miami Ave. The page gives birth and death dates for many occupants, transcribes their census records, and has photos showing how the house has changed over the years.
You can use the Terrace Park building survey site in several ways:
- Click Search to search for a person’s name or other words in building descriptions. You’ll get a list of results for related buildings; click one to see information for that building.
- Click Street Index to browse to a street name, then click the house number you’re looking for.
- Use the links on the left side of the home page to browse the site’s deed records, census records and burial information.
Researching your ancestors’ neighbors and associates is one way to get around genealogical brick walls, and it gives you a really good picture of how your ancestor lived. Cole's site—the only one of its kind I've found —provides rich detail for people with Terrace Park ancestors.
- Click Related Information to read background material on the community and local organizations.
To find historical and genealogical information from your ancestral hometown, try clicking around the county's USGenWeb site, visiting the local historical or genealogical association site, and running a Google search on the county or town name and genealogy.
Cemeteries | census records | Free Databases | Land records | Vital Records
Wednesday, December 16, 2009 3:44:25 PM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)
Tuesday, November 10, 2009
Cincinnati Library Digitizes Sanborn Maps
Posted by Diane
Our friends at our local Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County let it slip today that they’re digitizing their local Sanborn maps and putting them online. They’ve already got two volumes scanned.
Wondering what Sanborn maps are? The Sanborn company published them regularly from 1867 to 1970 to evaluate fire insurance liability in urban areas. Between publications, the company would issue updated maps on single sheets to be glued into a volume of maps.
The maps are detailed street plans at a scale of 50 feet to one inch on large sheets of paper—one sheet shows about four to six city blocks. You can see building outlines, locations of windows and doors, building use (including the names of most public buildings), property boundaries, house and block number, street names, street and sidewalk widths, fire walls, composition of building materials and more.
You can learn a lot about your ancestor’s house and neighborhood, or research the history of your own old house.
Each map volume has a title page showing the publication year and an index of the streets and addresses covered in that volume. You just look up the address or building name to find the sheet number for the large-scale map it appears on. There’s also an index map of the entire mapped area, with the sheet numbers for each large-scale map in that volume. If you don't know the address, you can use this index map to guess the sheet number you need.
Sanborn maps cover most urban areas. Many public and university libraries have Sanborn maps in print or on microfilm for the local area. The Library of Congress has a huge collection. At some libraries, you can access ProQuest’s database of digitized maps (check your library’s Web site or ask at the reference desk).
Back to the Cincinnati library’s collection: Each index page and map sheet is an individual PDF document. First, check the index page to find the map number you want. I was looking for my great-grandfather’s store, H.A. Seeger Cigar Manufacturer, which operated for decades at the corner of 12th and Pendleton in downtown Cincinnati.
I clicked on volume 2, published in 1904, and checked the index:
Then I downloaded sheet 148. H.A. Seeger's Cigars is circled in yellow:
Dwellings are labeled D and stores are labeled S. My relatives probably attended the Roman Catholic church across the street and bought bread from the bakery seven doors down.
More resources: Walking with Your Ancestors: A Genealogist's Guide to Using Maps and Geography by Melinda Kashuba
Free Databases | Land records | Libraries and Archives | Research Tips
Tuesday, November 10, 2009 5:29:40 PM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)
Tuesday, June 09, 2009
Familyrelatives Adds British Landowner Records
Posted by Diane
British database site Familyrelatives.com added Britain’s Victorian “Doomsday Book” showing who owned land in England, Wales, Scotland and Ireland more than 100 years ago.
The book, published in 1873, includes landowner returns that provide the name and address of every owner, the amount of land held, and the yearly rental valuation of holdings that are larger than an acre.
More than 320,000 landowners owned an acre or more, representing 1 percent of the population of the United Kingdom at the time. Nearly 850,000 owned less than an acre. London was excluded from the returns.
To search, click the Search tab on Familyrelatives' home page, then scroll down to the Land Records heading and choose a country.
The Doomsday records are available only with a Familyrelatives.com subscription (about $50 a year); not as a pay-per-view option.
Genealogy Web Sites | Land records | UK and Irish roots
Tuesday, June 09, 2009 9:46:27 AM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)
Thursday, June 04, 2009
Newest General Land Office Records: Master Title Plats
Posted by Diane
Land-records researchers might be interested to know that most of the Master Title Plats for Colorado, Idaho, Montana, North Dakota, and South Dakota will be available free on the Bureau of Land Management-Eastern States General Land Office Records Web site starting Monday.
These plats are maps relating to federal government land ownership. They show authorization for various uses (such as mining or oil drilling rights), agency jurisdiction, and rights reserved to the federal government on private land in a township. Accompanying historical indexes list related actions (such as new or canceled use authorizations).
So how would you use them for genealogy?
GLO systems manager John Butterfield suggests that if you have the legal land description and other information from your ancestor’s land patent, you can use a Master Title Plat for that township to see where the property was located.
See an example of how to search for and use GLO patents on FamilyTreeMagazine.com.
Free Databases | Land records
Thursday, June 04, 2009 4:54:39 PM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)